Defence policy

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on defence policy. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
24.05.2016ISIS/Daesh: the military response in Iraq and Syria
US-led air strikes against ISIS continue in Iraq and Syria, alongside a training programme to build the capacity of Iraqi security forces and local fighters. The UK has been conducting airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq since September 2014 and has been providing training assistance to Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga. Following a vote in Parliament in December 2015 the UK expanded its air campaign into Syria. How is the campaign progressing?
17.05.2016The French Nuclear Deterrent
The French nuclear deterrent is the one that is most often compared to the UK's nuclear forces. While there are similarities in terms of policy, posture and size, there are also significant differences in terms of industrial support and cost. All of the major political parties in France also support an independent nuclear deterrent, in contrast to the UK; while domestic support is also high. This paper examines the French nuclear deterrent in greater detail.
09.05.2016Armed Forces Bill 2015-16: Lords amendments
The Armed Forces Bill 2015-16 returns to the House of Commons on 11 May 2016 for consideration of Lords amendments. This briefing paper provides information on these amendments.
20.04.2016Nuclear Weapons - Country Comparisons
There are nine countries in the world that have nuclear weapons. Between them they possess an estimated 15,900 nuclear warheads. This paper is intended as a brief guide to which countries possess nuclear weapons and how they are seeking to either modernise or expand those capabilities.
04.03.2016Women in Combat
Women may soon be allowed to serve on the front line in the Infantry and Royal Marines. The Government is reviewing its policy of excluding women from in ground close combat roles and a decision is expected before summer recess 2016.
01.03.2016Replacing the UK's Nuclear Deterrent
After nearly a decade of work on a programme to replace the UK's nuclear deterrent from the early 2030s, a decision on taking that programme forward will be made shortly. The Government is expected to seek the approval of Parliament for this decision. But what are the arguments for and against doing so? How much will it cost? And are there any other alternatives?
19.02.2016NATO's military response to Russia
NATO adopted a Readiness Action Plan in response to the 2014 Russia-Ukraine crisis. This note explains the main elements with a focus on the UK military contribution.
12.02.2016EU referendum: impact of an EU exit in key UK policy areas
This paper looks at the current situation in a range of policy areas and considers how it might change if the UK left the EU: would UK citizens benefit? This would depend on how the Government filled any policy gaps left by withdrawal.
12.01.2016The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review
This Commons Library briefing paper examines how the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review will affect the armed forces.
11.01.2016The UK National Security Council
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the UK National Security Council (NSC). Using a Q&A format, the briefing provides basic information about its origins, mandate and operation.

Lords Library Notes

DateDescription
12.05.2016Queen's Speech 2016 Day 2: Foreign and European Affairs, International Development and Defence
The House of Lords is due to debate the Queen's Speech over four days between 19 and 25 May 2016. This briefing is one of four prepared by the House of Lords Library to cover the themes of each day of debate.
20.01.2016Work of the Ad Hoc Committees in 2013-14
This House of Lords Library briefing provides an overview of the work of the five ad hoc Lords Select Committees which reported in the 2013-14 session.
03.07.2015Reports into Investigatory Powers
This Note provides a summary of the recommendations of recent reports, including the report of David Anderson QC, and supporting material on the use of investigatory powers.
06.12.2013Defence Reform Bill
This Note provides background information on the Defence Reform Bill, which is due to have its second reading in the House of Lords on 10 December 2013.

POSTnotes

DateDescription
22.10.2015Automation in Military Operations
Automated technology is increasingly used in military activities such as intelligence gathering, navigation and weapons delivery. The most widespread use of automated technology to date has been remotely piloted air systems. However, each of the main military domains - air, land and sea - make use of automation. This POSTnote outlines current and potential future applications of automation in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and in combat. It then summarises debate over legal, ethical and societal issues, including debate over whether a pre-emptive ban is needed on future lethal autonomous weapons systems.
05.12.2011Explosive Injuries
This briefing provides a background to explosive injury, explores developments in mitigation science, and highlights research priorities.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
25.01.2011Who does UK national strategy?
Government response. Public Administration Select Committee; Cabinet Office report [Commons]
12.10.2010Who does UK national strategy?
Public Administration Select Committee report [Commons]
27.07.2010MoD annual report and accounts 2008-09.
Government response. Defence Select Committee; Ministry of Defence report [Commons]
06.04.2010Readiness and recuperation of the Armed Forces: looking towards the Strategic Defence Review.
Government response. Defence Select Committee report [Commons]
09.03.2010National security and resilience.
Government response. Defence Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

DateDescription
26.05.2010TRIDENT AND THE STRATEGIC DEFENCE AND SECURITY REVIEW
That this House welcomes the Government's intention to hold a strategic defence and security review; notes with concern the stated intention to conduct it without giving due consideration ...
05.01.2010PROPOSED CLOSURE OF RAF COTTESMORE
That this House regrets the Ministry of Defence's decision to close RAF Cottesmore, home to the Harrier Force as part of changes to the defence programme announced in December 2009; ...
21.07.2009STRATEGIC DEFENCE REVIEW (No. 2)
That this House welcomes the decision by the Government to hold a strategic defence review but believes that such a review will be meaningless if the schemes for the replacement of ...
14.07.2009STRATEGIC DEFENCE REVIEW
That this House believes that any forthcoming Strategic Defence Review should examine all aspects of United Kingdom defence and security; is concerned that the Government excludes from ...
12.11.2008PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA AND SUPPORT FOR NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT
That this House welcomes the support for nuclear disarmament initiatives and the strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty made by President-elect Obama in his successful ...

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses